Assam village encircled with solar-powered fence to prevent raids by wild elephants

 

Guwahati, Oct 8: In an attempt to  safeguard a village and its people from perennial raid by wild elephants herds, biodiversity conservation and research organisation, Aaranyak (www.aaranyak.org) has installed solar-powered fencing encircling the village.

Set up at the initiative of Elephant Research and Conservation Division (ERCD) of Aaranyak, the 3.5-kilometer-long solar-powered fencing comprising of two stretches at Dakurvita Village in Goalpara district of Assam, was officially switched on by Jitendra Kumar, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Goalpara in presence of Ms. Shantana Medhi, Range Officer and Beat Officer of Makri Beat Office on Wednesday.

Dr Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar, Head of ERCD of Aaranyak and Anjan Baruah, Programme coordinator of the ERCD who spearheaded the solar-powered fencing project, were also present on the occasion that stoked hopes for about 500 persons from the 125 households in the villages who have been having torrid time because of raging human-elephant conflict in the area. Their life and livelihood have been at stake because of frequent raids by herds of wild elephants every winter.

The initiative has been supported by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We have set up the solar fencing in such a way that it encircles the village. The villagers have been able to reap the benefits of their cultivation so far this year after a long time and the solar-powered fencing have effectively functioned at deterrent against wild elephants. Earlier, people in the village used to set up illegal electrically charged wires to prevent elephants’ raid and it was dangerous to lives of all animals and human beings,” Dr Lahkar said.

Dr Lahkar expressed his gratitude to the local community and Forest Department for their immense support in installing the solar powered fence. He mentioned that the fence would help in protecting agricultural crops and urged the locals to remove illegal electrical fences for the safety of elephant as well as human beings. He stated the fence will last for minimum of 5 years and requested the locals to maintain it properly for its longevity.

Anjan Baruah, Aaranyak who took proactive role during the installation of the fence also urged locals for adequate maintenance of the fence and committed for all possible support in this regard.

Shantana Medhi, Ranger of the Forest Department praised Aaranyak for this initiative and lauded the community for their support.

Community leaders expressed happiness and stated that post installation of the fence their crops received protection besides helping them coexisting with elephants. They thanked Aaranyak and committed for timely maintenance of the fence. The locals have already replaced several posts of the fence with concrete ones for durability.

An MoU was signed by Aaranyak, Forest Department and Local community leaders committing for maintenance of the fence for five years.

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